Starving lions in Sudan

FOUR PAWS Rescues Nearly 50 Wild Animals Trapped in Conflict Zone in Sudan

Starving lions, hyenas, and wildcats were relocated to temporary safe space


Vienna, 21 November 2023 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has returned to Sudan for the urgent evacuation of nearly 50 wild animals from the high conflict escalation zone in the south of Khartoum – one of its biggest and most dangerous rescue missions to date. Due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis as well as the increasing risks for humans and animals on-site, Sudan Animal Rescue (SAR), who runs a local rescue centre, asked FOUR PAWS for help. On 19 and 20 November, the FOUR PAWS experts together with local support, evacuated the animals, including lions, hyenas, wildcats, birds, and deer from the conflict zone, in a high-profile two-day action. Sadly, not all animals survived. The surviving animals received veterinary care and were relocated to a safe area in Um Barona National Park. The Sudanese Wildlife authorities will now take over the care of the animals and look into a sustainable long-term solution together with FOUR PAWS.

Sudan has been shattered by war since armed conflicts broke out in April 2023. 5.5 million people have since left the country. There is a lack of electricity, food, and water. The FOUR PAWS team, including veterinarians and wildlife experts, has been preparing the logistic challenge of relocating the large number of animals under extremely difficult circumstances tirelessly. Both parties involved in the ongoing conflict have granted the team permission to enter capital city Khartoum to swiftly evacuate all animals from the premises of Sudan Animal Rescue. In the last months, FOUR PAWS has been supporting SAR with costs for food, medicine, and staff, and provided veterinary knowledge and advice. The experienced team is working closely with the Sudanese officials and will be accompanied by security experts at all times.

“Conflicts not only affect humans but also animals. Given the high-risk circumstances, our priority was to safely evacuate all the animals from Sudan Animal Rescue in Khartoum as fast as possible. This was a huge challenge for our team but we are relieved that we got nearly 50 animals out of the immediate dangers of the conflict zone. Sadly, multiple lions and other animals have recently died due to disease and hunger, resorting to eating each other. The surviving animals are very thin and weak, despite the best efforts of the remaining caretakers. We provided immediate veterinary care and medication after bringing them to safety. During the he upcoming weeks we will be working with the Sudanese authorities to find sustainable long-term solutions for the animals.”

FOUR PAWS veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil, who led the evacuation and relocation of the animals

“It is saddening to see how much suffering these animals had to endure due to the ongoing conflicts and challenging situation in Sudan but we are glad to see them on the way to a better future. We are grateful to all involved parties on the ground that gave our FOUR PAWS team permission to save these animals, who are innocents trapped in a human conflict. This shows how dedication and great cooperation can spark hope. Reveal, rescue, protect – these three verbs define how we operate. Now that we have brought the animals to safety, we will find a sustainable long-term solution for them together with the Sudanese authorities and our global network.” 

FOUR PAWS CEO Josef Pfabigan

Expertise in disaster, crisis, and conflict zones

Emergency animal rescues in delicate situations are no new territory for FOUR PAWS. The experts from the Rapid Response team have already worked in countries such as Libya, Sri Lanka, Kenia in the past or recently disaster relief in Türkiye and Syria after the devastating earthquake. In 2016 and 2019 they evacuated three zoos in the Gaza Strip. In 2017, FOUR PAWS rescued 13 animals from an amusement park near Aleppo in Syria as well as the last two surviving bears and lions from a zoo in Mosul, Iraq.


FOUR PAWS first became active in Sudan in 2020 to provide the nearly starved lions Kandaka and Mansour with urgent medical care and food. The zoo where they were kept was closed shortly after. FOUR PAWS relocated the lions to the newly built rescue center of the local animal welfare organisation Sudan Animal Rescue, where they could regain strength for the planned relocation. After a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions around the world, FOUR PAWS was finally able to transfer Kandaka and Mansour to their forever home at Al Ma’wa for Nature and Wildlife in Jordan in November 2022.

Rescue mission in Karthoum, Sudan

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Katharina Braun

Katharina Braun

Team Lead Public Relations

+43 (0) 664 885 33 270

VIER PFOTEN International 
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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